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July 2021 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

At Home With: Jenna Choate

As co-founder of boutique interior design studio, Interior Fox, Jenna certainly knows how to put a room together. Doing up her own home, however, meant going deeper than the cosmetic.

Never ones to shy away from a project, Jenna and husband Ben got to work immediately when they bought their three-bed Victorian home in north London back in 2017 – they had  been searching for the right property for a full year. If the idea was to gut the place and start again, you’d be forgiven for wondering why they’d be so picky, but the interior designer knew she needed to find a house with “unique and original bones” in order to realise the ambitious renovation. “We finally found a special property,” says Jenna. “Being end-of-terrace, you get a larger lot and a side return in the back garden, plus garden entrance from the street. And we needed somewhere that had enough space to re-configure the layout to create a more modern living flow.”

Jenna and Ben share the property with their two sausage dogs, Stella and Chloe – by no coincidence names from the fashion world, in fitting with their stylish abode. The house offers a rich feast of natural textures, clean modern lines, and contemporary artworks and objects. For Jenna, it’s all about relaxed and luxe global interiors with strong European influences. “I love sunny destinations and outdoor living,” she explains, “so my interiors style usually incorporates elements from this type of lifestyle. I love off-white linen, clean lines, worn wood, and I love mixing patterns and prints. I am obsessed with a stripe!”

The renovation came to life in two distinct phases: phase one saw the master bedroom reconfigured, opening up the small bedroom next door and creating a walk-in wardrobe and en suite, while the original family bathroom down the hall was converted into a guest room with a small en suite bathroom. “We also white-washed all the walls and stained all the floorboards black for a neutral base,” says Jenna. “I recommend doing this when you move into an old/new space to really see the bones and make a fresh start.”

Phase two consisted of a lower ground floor side extension with an internal structural refurb. “We moved the entire ground floor staircase to create a small home bar in the dining space and a laundry room behind it,” Jenna explains. “The kitchen extension was a must for this space as the previous kitchen was sunken and very dark. The basement bedroom and hallway were re-configured and opened up to create a larger guest bedroom, built-in storage and a window seat.”

The look is effortlessly chic. You wouldn’t know it, but each room has been meticulously planned out, rather than coming together over the years in an organic, thrown together fashion. (Conversely, the property looks entirely organic and thrown together – in the best possible way). “I treated my own home like I would a client’s,” Jenna reveals. “I planned each room out with a mood-board of products and colours and took it from there.” But being a seasoned interior designer, she knew when to go with the flow, too. “Not everything goes to plan,” she admits, “so being able to adapt or adjust as you go is important as well. I knew from the get-go things like floor colours, wall colours, electrical outlets, and hardware, and from there each room had a concept. For bathrooms, I was excited to pick out the tiles and really get playful with the combinations. If I have the opportunity to add a wall light or a ceiling pendant, I will.”

Going from room to room, you’re met with surprising elements, either structurally or in the décor – the inviting window seat in the guest bedroom, for example, or the feature wall of wooden slats in the study, which gives the room a distinct Scandi feel and a sauna-like warmth. Perhaps the most inspired, however, is the mezzanine. “This room used to go all the way to the windows, which were French doors with a spiral staircase that went down to the garden,” Jenna reveals. “It was beautiful but completely impractical as it was wasting so much space below.” The couple worked with east London’s MAP Architecture for this part of the renovation, citing them as ‘genius’. “We originally called this room the library and imagined a two-storey bookcase, but we realised we don’t actually have that many books!” Jenna admits. Instead, the space was designed around a work by fine art photographer Tom Blachford. “He photographs famous mid-century architects’ homes at night in Palm Springs,” says Jenna. The picture certainly sets the vibe, and with the addition of an imposing indoor tree, ’70s style tan leather armchairs, and white pendant lights with excessively long fringing, it is a quirky but ultimately calming space, impossible not to relax in. “We use this space for yoga, for drinking coffee, for taking a phone call,” says Jenna. “It’s a bonus chill zone.”

There’s lots to look forward to for Interior Fox, not least an upcoming loft conversion, a commercial showroom, and a restaurant makeover on the cards. With a busy workload, it’s imperative that Jenna’s own property is a sanctuary of calm. The designer says that she’s in her happy place when she can truly mix indoor and outdoor space, and this connection with nature is no more apparent than in the bright and airy kitchen. “I love the main kitchen wall with quartz stone and white tongue ’n’ groove,” she says. “The bright white feels like the light you get on a sunny day. When I’m standing in my kitchen and open the sliding doors to the outdoor seating area, that is my favourite moment. The outdoor patio was all custom built from block work and then my sweet mother-in-law made all the custom cushions. The hot tub sits just behind the seating, so it is a triple treat for me.”

interiorfox.co.uk